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Between the Lines

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                When Derek says, demands, really, “Listen to this.” Stiles tells himself that it’s because he’s good at that. He might talk and talk and talk just to get around the silence, but when his turn is over, he knows how to turn a solid ear to whoever has something else to say. His dad would even say that maybe he can listen a little too well.

 

                Not the point. The point is that, out of the others, he’s the best at that kind of stuff. He won’t just reply, Oh, that’s good, and if Derek wants actual criticism, he can dish it – without it being just plain cruel.

 

                He tells himself this and very purposefully doesn’t think on the same vein that’s been popping up in his head lately, that he might just be Derek’s best friend now, that they hang out more than him and Scott these days. He doesn’t think about the way that Derek takes what he says to heart, makes note of everything Stiles comments on, or suggests, even in jest. He doesn’t think about any of that stuff because it doesn’t apply here. This is for professional, writing reasons. Not Stiles in particular reasons.

 

                Those walls up around those thoughts are probably what keeps him sane when Derek says – when he does – when he –

 

                When he leans forward, just an inch from being in Stiles’ space. When he tilts his head a little, something Stiles hopes to god is subconscious because that is way too smooth a move to be done regularly. When he dips his chin and looks up at Stiles and holds eye contact, his own eyes adopting an unreadable gleam. When he slips his tongue briefly over his bottom lip before he rasps, “The truth is… being with you scares me.” When he pauses and Stiles is forced to think to himself he’s reading dialogue, he’s just reading dialogue, he’s not actually saying this, before he continues, “But not being with you…”

 

                He takes a breath, and goddamn, why couldn’t Stiles just read this scene on his own? It’s not like the readers are going to get their very own Derek-read-aloud show when they read it themselves.

 

                “It terrifies me.”

 

                And he says this, still holding that eye contact. But he doesn’t widen his eyes like a liar trying to get the point down, or an actor overcompensating just the tiniest bit. He only says it, with eyes that grip Stiles’ own. And, fuck him, it hits him like a punch to the sternum.

 

                Thankfully, after a moment, Derek pulls himself back and as if a string is cut between them, Stiles falls back a second after, breaking the spell. He looks away, licking his lips and heaving in a deep, but quiet breath. “Yeah,” he says, though, and his eyes close in defeat at noticing this, his words are breathless, “Yeah… that’s good for the build up.”

 

                He still doesn’t look at Derek, but he hears the squeak of Derek’s chair rolling on the floor, and the quick click-clattering of Derek typing something into one of his documents. A glance shows that it’s his notes, not the actual main portion of writing, and Stiles, still trying to catch some air, frowns at it.

 

                He said, what, not even ten words? What on Earth could Derek have to gain from his reply?